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The Blind Men and the Elephant

Book Description

If you work, you probably manage projects every day-even if "project manager" isn't in your official title-and you know how frustrating the experience can be. Using the familiar story of six blind men failing to describe an elephant to each other as a metaphor, David Schmaltz brilliantly identifies the true root cause of the difficulties in project work: "incoherence" (the inability of a group of people to make common meaning from their common experience).
Schmaltz exposes such oft-cited difficulties as poor planning, weak leadership, and fickle customers as poor excuses for project failure, providing a set of simple, project coherence-building techniques that anyone can use to achieve success. He explains how "wickedness" develops when a team over-relies on their leader for guidance rather than tapping their true source of power and authority-the individual.
The Blind Men and the Elephant explores just how much influence is completely within each individual's control. Using real-world stories, Schmaltz undermines the excuses that may be keeping you trapped in meaningless work, offering practical guidance for overcoming the inevitable difficulties of project work.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Preface: Naive Beginnings
  6. 1: The Blind Men
    1. “The Blind Men and the Elephant”
    2. Challenging Our Certainty
    3. Confusing Ourselves
    4. Choosing more Appropriate Frames of Reference
    5. A Different Set of Possibilities
  7. 2: The Elephant
    1. An Elephant We Cannot See
    2. Masters and Slaves
    3. Fragmenting along Predictable Lines
    4. Disclosing Our Delusion
    5. Liberating Ourselves
    6. “That each by Observation Might Satisfy His Mind”
  8. 3: The Wall
    1. Festina Lente—Hasten Slowly
    2. Meeting My Wall (Again)
    3. Discovering what I Want
    4. Juiciness
    5. “God Bless Me! but the Elephant is Very Like a Wall!”
  9. 4: The Spear
    1. The Tale of a Very Bad Soldier
    2. Monitoring My Metaphors
    3. “To Me ’Tis Mighty Clear, this Wonder of an Elephant is Very Like a Spear!”
  10. 5: The Snake
    1. Who’s Here with You?
    2. Trusting Snakes
    3. Sorry Sort of Safety
    4. Snake Hunting
    5. Tit for Tat
    6. How Badly do You Want Them to Win?
    7. “I See,” Quoth He, “The Elephant is Very Like a Snake!”
  11. 6: The Tree
    1. “101 Reasons Why I Can’t Plan Yet”
    2. “I Think that I will Never See …”
    3. There’s No Such Thing as a Project
    4. Unavoidable Blind Spots
    5. Imposing Disorganization
    6. How Work Really Gets Done
    7. Central Organizing Principle
    8. “’Tis Clear Enough the Elephant is Very Like a Tree!”
  12. 7: The Fan
    1. No One is Apathetic Except in Pursuit of Someone Else’s Goal
    2. Fanning the Flame or Stirring the Breeze?
    3. Three-Part Conversation
    4. Creating a Village Idiot
    5. “Deny the Fact who Can, this Marvel of an Elephant is Very Like a Fan!”
  13. 8: The Rope
    1. Will Rogers was an Artist with a Rope
    2. Sitting Comfortably
    3. Just Like the Real World
    4. Coherence Emerges
    5. Encouraging Coherence
    6. “I See,” Quoth He, “The Elephant is Very Like a Rope!”
  14. 9: Theologic Wars
    1. A Heretic’s Homecoming
    2. “And Prate about an Elephant not One of Them has Seen!”
  15. Bibliography
  16. Index
  17. About the Author